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Oh, Oh, Amadeus

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Much is manufactured in Peter Shaffer's "biographical" play, Amadeus. Facts from the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his contemporary Antonio Salieri are stretched, twisted and rearranged — the uncharitable might call them "distortions of the truth" — but Shaffer does so with the finest of intentions. It does make for a better story, after all. Mozart is portrayed as a scatalogically obsessed boor who is determined to use the weight of his genius as a battering ram that will afford him entry into high society. Salieri becomes a conniving, pious villain blocking his competitor at every step. This manufactured conflict allows Shaffer to get at many intriguing questions: Does God favor some people over others? Does society elevate asses to celebrity despite their glaring flaws? Does genius excuse deplorable behavior? Dirty little Mozart, as depicted here at least, is so lovable in his crassness, but would you want him as a friend? Probably not even as a houseguest, in truth — but he certainly is fun to watch. The Repertory Theater of St. Louis opens its new season with Amadeus at 8 p.m. Wednesday, September 9, at the Loretto-Hilton Center (130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves; 314-968-4925 or www.repstl.org). The show is performed every day except Monday through Sunday, October 4. Tickets are $18 to $68.
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Sept. 9. Continues through Oct. 4, 2009

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